Shifting from D500 to A9 ??

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I must admit, the latest Sony A9 is very tempting. Her AF capability is very impressive, not only as a mirrorless camera but compared to a top-grade DSLR.

After testing it in a showroom, a devil voice speaks to me “Do you want to shift from D500 to A9?” Well definitely I want to say “Yes I do”.

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Both of them are designed for action shooting, so which one has better AF-C performance, A9 or D500 ? However I can’t tell because I am not able to do an AB test. Besides, the more camera I use, the more I believe there is no 100% objective method to determine which AF system out-performs the other.

I know there are lots of figures and reviews showing the A9 is the king, even better than Nikon D5. I am not going to challenge those reviews and I believe their results are genuine. However, in reality, AF performance is situational, many factors can change the result significantly e.g.  lens, subject distance, tracking method (e.g. Pan shot), AF-mode selection (e.g. Wide, Group or single spot), lighting and even weather (e.g. raining).

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So I am not going to test and prove, which I can’t, whether A9 or D500 is better. What I want to find out is “Can D500 do the job?”. I am not a professional photography but I still love a responsive camera which is capable to capture action (e.g. my little son)

In recent months, I have been using the D500 intensively. I am happy with it and it never fails me even under challenging lighting (e.g. Concert), bird photography (e.g. black-kite), running pet (e.g. Dog) and long-distance shooting (e.g. planes). Therefore I want to put the D500 into another test; a complicated scene with background and multiple subjects mixed together.

This year, there is a program called “Summer Max” in ocean park of Hong Kong. Here are several sequences I capture with my D500 & Nikon 24-70 ED G lens.

Sequence 1
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Sequence 2
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I do pixel peep all raw files one by one, although not 100% in-focus, I feel very much satisfied. I am not sure if A9 can do better, I just know D500 is good enough for me.

Will I shift to A9 later, yes, if the following hindrances are removed:

1. Limited lens choice: Fast Telephoto prime lens, e.g. 300mm – 500mm, is still lacking in the E-mount family. I can’t unleash the full power of A9 without a matching lens in birding.

2. Responsiveness: in my perception, D500 is still a bit more responsive than A9 (e.g. camera turn-on, change setting etc). In addition, the buffer of D500 apparently won’t fill up (XQD version). Therefore, in critical situation, you can shoot without any hesitation, that gives your extra confidence and makes D500 to be my most trust worthy companion.

3. Lens Price premium : In fact camera body of A9 is already cheaper than D5 or 1Dx markII but in general the price tag of E-mount lens is 30% – 50% higher than her DSLR counterparts. So, in overall, the spending on E-mount system will be much higher than that in C or N family.

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D500 is an APS-C camera, so intrinsically speaking, it is no match with Full frame in light of dynamic range and noise control. However for daily photography, it can do landscape and portraiture too.

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